Washington Square Park Eco Projects & Co-founder Georgia Silvera Seamans

Georgia Silvera Seamans (center) with the interactive Washington Square Park Eco Projects Mobile Exhibit. Photo Courtesy Street Lab

Georgia Silvera Seamans is the co-founding director of Washington Square Park Eco Projects in New York City. She is an urban forester, independent researcher, and writer. Georgia has bylines with UrbanOmnibus.netAudubon.org, and Audubon Magazine, and her research has been published in Urban Forestry & Urban Greening and the former Journal of Arboriculture. Georgia blogs about urban nature at localecologist.org. She holds degrees from Wesleyan University, the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and UC Berkeley.  

Could you share about your NYC roots and your connection to Washington Square Park in particular?

Georgia Silvera Seamans: When my family emigrated to the U.S., the first place we landed was Washington Heights. I attended junior high and high school in NYC. I used to visit the Village as a teenager; the vintage shops on West 8th Street were fun to explore! I recall one visit to Washington Square Park during that time. The Park struck me as a dynamic and diverse place. As an adult I moved back to the City in 2009. I live a few blocks from the Park, within a 10-minute walk.

A view from within WSP to the iconic Washington Arch. The nearby crabapple trees feed many bird species in the fall, including catbirds and hermit thrushes. Photo by the author.

How did you come to urban forestry, and what have been some of your peak experiences along the way? Could you talk about your urban forestry research and writing? 

GSS: I became an urban forester because of my job as a paid community forestry intern with the Urban Resources Initiative in New Haven, Connecticut. This practical experience more than any academic training set me on the urban forestry path. I was an intern in the organization’s Community Greenspace program where I provided technical resources to seven community groups in the Newhallville neighborhoods.

The projects undertaken by the groups I worked with ranged from planting street trees on a block to converting an abandoned house lot into a bird sanctuary. I can honestly say that but for this rigorous and fun experience I would not have applied to and been offered the job as urban forester for the City of Boston.

I returned to graduate school after working for the Boston Parks and Recreation Department for a few years. At UC Berkeley, my dissertation research was focused on how and why municipal agencies and nonprofits were reframing trees as ecological agents versus the conventional aesthetic narrative. I am proud of my first authored paper based on my dissertation which was published in 2013 in Urban Forestry & Urban Greening.

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Lauryn’s Watering in Watertown: A Key Role in a Late Summer Bur Oak Transplanting

photos courtesy Mike DeMarco

Coming out of the end of my sophomore year at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, I was hoping for an internship for the summer, or at least a job. Unfortunately, both of the internships I had lined up fell through due to COVID-19. Luckily, however, I came across the opportunity to be the urban forestry assistant for the City of Watertown.

My job this summer was to water and prune the young trees and also water the older ash trees that had been given root treatments for emerald ash borer. My position was a hybrid, housed between the Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) and the Department of Public Works (DPW), which was really unique and made my summer all that more interesting. For instance, I realized how important the collaboration between the two was when we had to do an emergency tree transplanting in a construction site in the City.

The DPW was in the process of putting in a new sidewalk that was very close to an existing bur oak tree (Quercus macrocarpa). The DPW could have just taken the tree out or pretended it wasn’t there and severely damaged its root system, but instead they called the OPCD; they wanted to do a tree relocation and put the bur oak in place of a tree that had died about 15 feet away.

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HWS Junior Lauryn Tabolt’s Summer with Watertown’s Trees 🌳

Meet Lauryn Tabolt, a Hobart & William Smith junior who worked in the Watertown Planning Department this summer on tree care with Planning & Community Development Director Mike Lumbis and Planner (and Council Board Member) Mike DeMarco, who wrote this about Lauryn’s vital work during a hot, dry summer:

“Lauryn has been working hard to protect young trees from succumbing to drought stress by watering them on weekly and rotational cycles. Lauryn cared for and supported over 300 young trees planted over the past few years as well as individual larger trees as needed. She played a key role in the City’s 2020 Ash Tree Treatment Project by watering all 58 recently treated ash trees which assisted uptake of chemical pesticide throughout the tree … even during a drought!

An emergency late season tree transplant provided the opportunity for Lauryn to take part in the transplanting procedure as well as having own her spot on the construction site to water daily to ensure the survival of “Oakey” (named by Lauryn), the transplanted bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa).”

You can see a video series of Lauryn in her words on the NYSUFC YouTube Channel and on our Instagram page. 🌳

 

Virtual, Free NYS 4-H Forestry Course for Ages 10+ Starts May 9

The 2020 New York State 4-H Forestry Weekend has been reborn as a virtual learning experience! There will be five Saturday evening Zoom events that will include videos from various Cooperative Extension/4-H systems or related companies, as well as some made by our very own 4-Hers. Youth 10 and over, will learn about how to identify trees, how to measure diameter and log productions in trees, basic map & compass skills, as well forest ecology and tree pests and diseases. All of these programs are free to all participants. Those youth who complete the entire list of activities, including the online polls, and chats will receive a free related to the program.

Schedule:

May 9th, 2020 Introduction 6:30pm
May 16th, 2020 Tree Identification 6:30pm
May 23rd, 2020 Map & Compass 6:30pm
May 30th, 2020 Invasive Species & Pests 6:30pm
June 6th, 2020 Forest Ecology 6:30pm

Those youth 14+ who are interested in possibly competing at the National 4-H Forestry Invitational will be asked to complete more challenging learning tasks. Enrollment in the programs you are interested in is REQUIRED by completing the registration form and submitting to your local Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H Educator.

Jane Rodd
4-H Program Leader
Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County
2715, Route 44
Millbrook, NY 12545
Tel: 845-677-8223, ext. 105

Liverpool NY 2nd Annual Arbor Day Celebration

As part of the Village of Liverpool’s 2019 Arbor Day celebration, elementary students wrote and performed skits about trees.

Thank you to the Village of Liverpool and Deputy Mayor Christina Fadden (Fitch) for forwarding this terrific account and photos of their 2019 celebration, funded by a NYSUFC grant. Fadden says, “The grant funds were a great encouragement, and we also now stand on the cusp of finally being designated a Tree City USA. Thank you to the NYS Urban Forestry Council for your support of our efforts and program.”

Location of the Village of Liverpool, in Onondaga County, greater Syracuse.

On Friday May 3rd, 2019, the Village of Liverpool celebrated its 2nd Annual Arbor Day Celebration at Liverpool Elementary School. At 9:00 a.m., an assembly of approximately 280 students, teachers and staff gathered in the school cafeteria. Village of Liverpool Tree Advisory Committee members Lisa Ballantyne, Yvette Hewitt, Diane Recor and Adam Woodburn joined Mayor of the Village of Liverpool Gary White, DEC Senior Forester Matthew Swayze, and Officer Sean Pierce in attendance.

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Partnerships, Fruit Trees, and Land Restoration in the Peruvian Amazon, with James Kaechele

In his capacity as Arborist for the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, James Kaechele demonstrated how to properly plant a limón sutil tree (Citrus aurantifolia) to a community in the Peruvian Amazon.

All Photos Courtesy James Kaechele & Fruit Tree Planting Foundation

What skills does an urban forester use when planting trees on disturbed land along an Amazon River tributary? “All of them,” says New York Tree Trust Director and Council Executive Committee Member James Kaechele. In early December, 2019, Kaechele, also a consulting arborist for the Pittsburgh-based international charity Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF), went with a team of staff and volunteers to the Loreta Region of Peru to plant 6,000 fruit trees in five Amazon River communities.

“As urban foresters, our job is equal parts plants and people,” Kaechele says. “We’re uniquely positioned to coordinate both the arboricultural and human aspects of a project like this. The land-use questions are the same; the site assessment process is the same; tree planting techniques are the same; you have to address any concerns people have—for example, the worry that some have about whether a tree will fall on their house—it’s the same skills that I use in the work I do with street trees and residents in NYC.” Furthermore, the land along the Amazon River is often severely degraded and in need of restoration, just like in the tree beds, parks, and natural areas of NYC—just degraded for different reasons.

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Green Teens Club Produces Phenomenal Tree ID Guide

The Council received an email from Tyler of Green Teens Club, a national club creating online green resources and doing acts of service in communities. “We are made up of high school student volunteers, but parents and siblings often join in to help out on our projects,” Tyler says. “Teens from anywhere in the country can join Green Teens. We aren’t affiliated with any one school, but I believe some schools honor our volunteer hours for service hour requirement credit. We are funded by contributions from the families of volunteers.”

Green Teens created a superb, scientifically sound, and visually snappy Tree Identification Guide. You could not ask for a better introduction to Tree ID principles and terminology.

Green Teens are affiliated with Tree Musketeers, whose website has a series of guides in the same pleasing format on subjects ranging from birdwatching to photosynthesis to getting a forestry degree online.

ReLeaf 2019 in Pictures: Part II

Young people shone extra bright at the 2019 ReLeaf Conference, injecting energy and enthusiasm into the gathering.

After Onondaga Earth Corps (OEC) Director Greg Michel presented about the OEC mission and programming, OEC youth spoke about their experiences. Pictured here, Onondaga Earth Corps Crew Leader Tajuddin (Taj) shared from the heart about his connection to nature and concerns for the environment.
Young Adult Crew Member Jahkella is new to Onondaga Earth Corps and spoke about what she hopes to learn this season.

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ReLeaf 2019 in Pictures: Part I

Thank you, NYSDEC staff and Region 3 ReLeaf volunteers, for your hard work putting together a superb ReLeaf Conference.

Recent SUNY ESF grads Amandy Cruty (left) and Nafisa Tabassum are working as urban forestry technicians this summer with Syracuse City Arborist Steve Harris. They attended ReLeaf 2019 in the Hudson Valley, at Mount Saint Mary College.
Council Executive Secretary Liana Gooding (far right) addresses the Council Board just before the start of the conference. On average, 34 members serve on the Board and come from all nine DEC Regions of New York State.
SUNY ESF alum Lew Cutler came from Syracuse and retired doctor Kathy Gaffney came from Long Island to attend ReLeaf 2019. The conference theme was “Urban Forestry in a Rapidly Changing World,” referring in large part to the intersections of urban forestry and climate change.
Gloria Van Duyne is the NYSDEC Urban and Community Forestry Program Coordinator and facilitated and presented at ReLeaf 2019. She and her team worked with Region 3 volunteers to put on the conference.

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Village of Cassadaga & Lily Dale Assembly’s First Arbor Day Celebration

Cassadaga and Lily Dale residents planting a ‘Red Sunset’ red maple (Acer rubrum) at Cassadaga ball fields. Cassadaga and Lily Dale are located about an hour southwest of Buffalo.

An Arbor Day grant of $1000 and instruction from Council Board Member Lori Brockelbank helped the Village of Cassadaga (pop. ~610) and Assembly of Lily Dale (pop. ~275) celebrate their first Arbor Day on Saturday May 18, 2019.

The family-friendly event started at the Cassadaga Library with crafts for kids, free saplings, refreshments, and Lori’s presentation. Among other things, she covered the benefits of trees; Right Plant, Right Place; tree planting and aftercare; and dealing with deer, beaver, and salt. She also talked about job opportunities in the urban forestry field, which piqued the interest of Cassadaga Job Corps youth. The group then headed out to plant trees.

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